Meander

Vampire Owl: I remember having met an elf with a similar name.

Vampire Bat: Well, this is certainly not a fantasy movie.

Vampire Owl: Elves are as real as we are. None of us are fantasy.

Vampire Bat: Well, for humans, we are all fantasy elements.

Vampire Owl: The girl on the poster does look very much real.

Vampire Bat: You surely cannot say the same about her surroundings.

Vampire Owl: The poster here doesn’t seems to mean anything.

Vampire Bat: It could be a reflection of the useless lives that the humans lead.

Vampire Owl: Well, with the terrible mindset that they have, what else can they do?

Vampire Bat: They could always choose to be extinct and save the planet and the other life forms that live without hate.

[Gets a vancho cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Lisa (Gaia Weiss) who works as a waiter is seen lying in the middle of a road in the countryside until a car arrives from a distance. She starts walking, but the man in the car, Adam (Peter Franzen) who works as a night watchman offers her a lift, as there is nobody nearby, and there is no hope of finding civilization soon enough. They seem to get along well enough, and Lisa is disappointed about her daughter’s death – she realizes that the girl would have been nine years old on that day if she was alive. There is the feeling of melancholy that runs through her, and she hopes that she could die one day and unite with he daughter again. It is then that it turns out that the man who is with her is a murderer, and the police is in search of him, as she realizes the same from the news on the radio. But the realization comes a little late, as he slams her head against the dashboard of the car, leaving her motionless.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Lisa wakes up in a small room which seems to have no way out. She is clothed in a strange suit which tightly fits her body, and a strange light-emitting device is attached to her wrist. Later, a door on the side opens and reveals a narrow tunnel through which she crawls with great difficulty, and the door closes right behind her, leaving her trapped inside on her all fours. She has no option, but to continue crawling, trying to find and exit which could lead her to freedom. The device on her wrist also seems to have a timer and alarm, as it seems to remind her of time running out, as she has to go squeeze through extremely narrow passages, as she moved towards light. As the roof of the tunnel comes down, almost catching her buttocks stuck within, that would be only the first of the challenges that she would have to overcome, soon to be followed by a rotten body, water, acid and others.

The defence of Meander :: Almost whole of the movie has just one setting around here, and it has also dealt with the same effectively. There are some fine traps in here, and the more terrifying thing is that they are all within a crawlspace, with the chance of escape being really minute – I wouldn’t give most of us any chance with this, but we root for the lady in distress here, as we are more confident about her getting through, even though not as much as Prince of Persia or Tomb Raider would. Here, in between, we come to know that there is more to all of these than what meets the eye, and that there is something beyond our comprehension, most probably supernatural or paranormal at work. The same is revealed in the end, and it means that we have further scope for a sequel here. After all, this kind of a premise, like that of Prometheus and Alien Covenant, even though lesser in grandeur, can have many different paths to follow. The mysterious feeling never really leaves us.

The claws of flaw :: Meander is surely not the usual kind of a movie, and it goes divergent from even any other possible film who can deal with a similar circumstance. It doesn’t have much more than what it provides here, and leaves us with minimal settings. People who don’t wish to see one person trying to fight it all to make the way out of a long crawlspace won’t find this one to be of their type. Even though this is supposed to be science fiction, the same type of elements show less of a presence around here. We also feel that this could have been better, more direct in what it does, because you know how these have worked really well with the video games. There could have been direct ideas provided here, and even though there could be symbolism being connected here, there is not much that we can use directly. We do have many films with one actor getting all the focus, and others being almost absent – Sunny is a recent example, and this one could have done more with the one character other than the trap escape acts.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has only two actors, and it is more or less about Gaia Weiss, who is there for the whole of the movie, and works through it very all, as her character keeps trying to survive against all odds. She nicely fits in here, and one would feel that if there is a full action film coming soon, she could be right in there, doing a great job. She plays the character that has do the impossible, and she does some fantastic work as the one person who goes through all of these. To add to it, there is also an emotional side to her character, which is also portrayed well. Peter Franzen also has some work to do, but he has a very less time on the screen. Basically, we can say that everything is left to Gaia, and she becomes the sole pillar on which the movie depends on, as far as performances are concerned. She never looks like she is going to lag with that much of a weight on her. Not many people could have handled the same so well too.

How it finishes :: Meander makes a fine French movie that has different elements coming together even with almost everything set in one particular place. It is all about survival, set in a seemingly difficult situation, much scarier than The Shallows where we know the enemy, and much hopeless than The Platform in which there was at least the certainty of food and a possible companionship. Unlike the rest which has some hope for its protagonists, this one is at an advanced level of leaving almost no chance to survive, like a hopeless level of The Maze Runner. As a film which gives you claustrophobia, this one is surely an experiment which you might want to remember for long. As the lady moves through this particular crawlspace world, you are into some slow and effective moments of thrills, unlike the ones that we usually see elsewhere. It is that tale of survival which once again has the protagonist fighting against all odds, and we are all hoping for her to survive.

Release date: 11th October 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Mathieu Turi
Starring: Gaia Weiss, Peter Franzen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Home

What is the movie about? :: Oliver Twist (Indrans) is leading a normal life with his two sons, Antony Oliver Twist (Sreenath Bhasi) and Charles Oliver Twist (Nalsen K Gafoor), his wife Kuttiyamma (Manju Pillai) and father (Kainakary Thankaraj) who has memory problems. Oliver and Kuttiyamma are also feeling the problems of their old age. Antony is trying to be successful in the film field, but he is too busy with social media that he doesn’t complete the climax of the script, much to the dismay of the producer, Baby (Maniyanpilla Raju) who keeps asking if something can be done about it. His time is running out, as it has been two years after he started writing – he had directed his first film to a grand success, and this time, nobody is sure that he will finish it in time. At the same time, Charles’ interest in social media only, and nothing else is on his list of interesting things. He keeps putting Instagram stories at all times, and during the rest of the time, he is mostly sleeping.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Finally, Antony decides to return home to finish his script, and for the same, he returns home with a seven day deadline to complete his script. There he finds out that Charles is vlogging at all times, and doing nothing else. His life is highly digitalized, and he is happy to keep himself online instead of talking to anyone in the family. Antony is no different, even though his parents remember that he used to be a different person before leaving them for the city. Antony is in love with Priya (Deepa Thomas), a relationship which has lasted very long, but now he is too bust to return her calls. Her father, Joseph Lopez (Srikanth Murali) is a very rich and influential man, popular at all places. Oliver hopes to be friendly with his sons, but they don’t have that much of an interest in talking to the elders. Often, they even ignore Oliver as if he is not a part of their life. Oliver hopes that things will change, and he goes on with his life, with that wish, but Antony has very low opinion about him, and is often hostile towards him too.

The defence of Home :: There are many things which are reflections of real life incidents in the film, and one often wonders if they have come across such incidents before. Social media addiction has been an effective theme, and these days, anyone is a vlogger on Youtube, and with many followers, they think that this is life. People have been bothered more about what happens online rather than offline, and in the same the real world is forgotten, a reflection of the same is reflected here. The message about mobile phones stealing our valuable time is also provided nicely. It adds a few things about loss of relationships and health due to the use of smartphones and social media among the youth. The film, even though set most in a home and its surroundings, is visually too good, not just inside the house, but also during the outside moments. There is a lot of beauty on the screen that surrounds everything, and occasional humour adds on well. Then, there is the ending that conquers all, emotionally as strong as it could be.

The claws of flaw :: There is a lot of repetition which happens in the film, and it is surely a slow work, as we look at it. Some of the emotions are added here and there as if it was just there for the sake of it, and some incidents just become random part of the same. This comes from the man behind Philips and the Monkeypen and Jo and the Boy, and we can see similar elements being repeated here. It still doesn’t have the charm or quality of the former, which was one of the best movies released in the year, seemingly bringing a certain amount of magic to the screen. It also has its length extended a little too much, and with too many songs being added here and there, it does feel a few minutes too long. There are moments in between when we feel that this was going nowhere nowhere, and it was going to go on with the same kind of thing again and again. There are so many things coming up, and often it does seem to miss the main point, but there is the ending that brings things together.

Performers of the soul :: Indrans was earlier seen in two very serious roles this year with two films, Malik and Yuvam, playing the roles of a police officer and an advocate respectively. This one is a light-hearted, but yet emotional role for him, and having come out of fully comic roles, he has been doing this really well. This is indeed a very heartfelt performance from him, and with him at the centre of a family movie, this will be remembered as he celebrate forty years in Malayalam cinema industry, in his 341st movie in the long career. We are finally able to see him throughout a mainstream film in the lead role, and also with the most emotional touch, as he basically lives through here. Sreenath Bhasi had some very serious roles in Virus and Kumbalangi Nights not too long ago, and he now has a rather lighter version here – he had come out of that earlier “freakan” image a long time ago, and this one has him in a controlled role. Nalsen K Gafoor who was last seen in Kuruthi with all the seriousness, and earlier in Thanneermathan Dinangal with all the humour, can be seen in a realistic role of a youngster in this film, and he once again scores big. The simple comic side that he adds here brings more life to the movie.

Further performers of the soul :: It is also nice to Manju Pillai having a good role to play in a film, as we have been seeing more in the television series and comedy shows of Mazhavil Manorama. She has blended into this role really well, and one would wonder why she was not that much in similar roles before. We have always loved to watch her in Thatteem Mutteem for a long time. There are also some nice dialogues that reflects the mood of the film. Deepa Thomas has her first leading role, and she has comes up with a memorable performance too. She has indeed provided a natural performance, and we look forward to seeing her in more roles, and with more screen space in comparison to what is seen here. Srikant Murali also has a role to remember here. Anoop Menon’s act is also a good one, while Maniyanpilla Raju also drops in here and there. Vijay Babu’s role might seem very small, but is still one role that also makes a difference, with a lovely touch of humour. Johny Antony, as usual adds more humour here, while KPAC Lalitha who comes in the final stages of the movie has something special to add. Priyanka Nair also has a fine role in the flashback.

How it finishes :: Home is a movie for the present families, which are not short of this kind of a situation at different homes, due a new generation of kids who are addicted to gadgets and moving away from parents both physically and mentally. It will be remembered for some moments for the heart. The feel-good elements from the director’s earlier films can be seen reflected here, and the same kind of reflections can be seen visually too. Vijay Babu has provided us with so many of similar movies, and we have always stayed close to most of them. During COVID-19 times, having a feel-good film to watch with family was always going to be good. The messages that the film provides are effective, and leads to that one final message which raises the level of the film. Do look out for the final scenes with credits too, and it is where the movie brings a little more for the soul. So, we have our Onam movie on Amazon Prime Video, and as you watch the same, I wish you a Very Happy Onam in advance!

Release date: 19th August 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Rojin Thomas
Starring: Indrans, Sreenath Bhasi, Kainakary Thankaraj, Naslen K Gafoor, Manju Pillai, Deepa Thomas, Vijay Babu, Srikant Murali, Johny Antony, Anoop Menon, Maniyanpilla Raju, Aju Varghese

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Sara’s

What is the movie about? :: Sara (Anna Ben) needs to get many things right, and making a name in the film field is only one of them. She has her own set of beliefs, and is not ready to step away from them, no matter the cost happens to be. From her school days itself, she was afraid of having a child, and she maintains that aversion throughout her life. She is bothered by her father Vincent’s (Benny P Nayarambalam) constant requests to get a boyfriend, without which they will come up with a match themselves. It is then that she meets Jeevan (Sunny Wayne), who had left his job in Bangalore and returned home, presently taking care of his sister’s children. When the two meet later, they are united by their lack of interest in having children, and decide to fall in love. They feel that there is a connection between them, and the two decide to wait for a few years before they marry – she hopes that she can study him well during that time, and also get her new movie going.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Their world consists of only the two of them, and they hope to keep it the same without any unwanted trouble. But when their parents come to know about the relationship, things don’t go that smoothly. They are forced to get married too soon, but the two decide to go with the flow without resisting the same. Sara continues to try and get her script accepted by a producer willing to let her direct the film. At the same time, Jeevan goes back to job again. Sara is disappointed by her inability to convince the producers, but things get only worse for her when she gets pregnant. All the relatives come to know about it, and their happiness is only matched by Sara’s disappointment. She hasn’t changed a bit as far as her ideology about children is concerned, even though Jeevan is now not sure. The equations have changed now, and what they had thought earlier might not work any longer.

The defence of Sara’s :: There can always be something about feel-good movies, and that something is carried over here too, with the feeling being too good. Jude Anthany Joseph’s mastery over the same is something on which everybody would agree. The emotional side is strong, and the light-hearted elements with the usual touch of humour works really well here. The reflections of the usual life and the disagreements between generations can also be seen in the flick. It is to be noted that the light-hearted feeling is maintained throughout the film, and it never slips away from the same during its two hours of seemingly perfect run-time, even though it deviates a little bit. As a female centered film, the protagonist does have more to tell you than what meets the eye. There is the requirement to understand that the purpose of marriage is not to have children as soon as you are married, and that parenthood is a responsibility for which everyone has to be prepared well. When people have children in less than an year after marriage, and when they choose to keep having more and more of kids almost every year, it is strange. There is always an intellectual purpose in life as far as humans are concerned, and it is being left behind by these people, both men and women. This film should be an awakening for them, as well as for those who marry early, without maturity coming to them. In India, as more the youth is more dependent on parents it takes them about twenty eight to thirty three years old to be really mature. It is surprising to see some people getting married at the age of twenty one and eighteen, and the recent cases on suicides in the name of domestic violence and dowry were all from those who married too early, especially without the women not being allowed to complete their studies or work freely.

The claws of flaw :: Sara’s could have been more with its ideas, and there was also a chance to add more of light-hearted comedy with those usual kind of situations. You are never really short of some feel-good ideas in our world, and chances for humour were many, but not many of them are taken. It often struggles to make comedy out of silly stuff. The movie should have actually released one day earlier during the weekend, and it would have had more viewers due to the weekend lock-down being imposed, and this flaw in release date will decrease its viewers by a considerable number. These are the kind of choices which make sure how many people watch the film from an OTT platform. Also expectations after Jude Anthany Joseph’s previous movies were very high, and this one has to match that, but this one is more about the ups and downs. This one is certainly not that much fun in comparison with the earlier films, and we also have a little bit more of an emotional side at work here. The final moments seem to have gone for the quick solution, instead of making things innovative. The film is also too materialistic in its viewpoint with main characters going for the selfish motive, the kind which won’t hesitate to cheat and murder if needed, and its heroine wouldn’t be ideal in a morality tale, but as she is shown as a person interested only in films, maybe she is more of a reflection of people in who are part of movies rather than common people. After all, it is difficult for the protagonist to understand that she is not an island, but it is to be noted that the people around her matches her in being judgmental.

Performers of the soul :: With his third venture which seems to resemble the earlier successful works from him, it is Jude Anthany Joseph who has our attention here, more than the main actors and actresses of this film, and it is with high expectations that we are watching this particular flick. The work of Anna Ben remains the same, natural, and perfectly suited for a role like this. Kumbalangi Nights and Helen had her realistic acting skills bringing some surprise to us. This time, we are having exactly what we expected from here, and one more natural performance brings us an lovable film. She is the one actress who makes the perfect new generation star who blends in so well with the roles given to her. Benny P Nayarambalam, Anna’s real-life father plays her father in the film too, and that is indeed a nice addition to the movie. Siddique is also there, and you know what to expect when the veteran actor is once again there, and doing his usual stuff – he has more or less become an integral part of the feel-good Malayalam movies of these times.

Further performers of the soul :: Sunny Wayne is here in a film which is not centered on him, but that comes as no surprise to him, as he was the hero in Annmaria Kalippilaanu, but was not the protagonist there too. He was very good in the earlier supporting roles, and with different roles like the villain in Kayamkulam Kochunni and the surprise entry in June, he is known for these kind of roles more than for being the sole hero in flicks like Alamara and a number of lesser known ones. Before this film, we had him everywhere with that song “Kaamini” in Anugraheethan Antony due to the producers of Chathur Mukham failing to bring it to OTT platforms at a time when films like Cold Case, Drishyam 2, Mohan Kumar Fans, Nizhal, The Priest, Aarkkariyam and Joji scored so high in Amazon Prime Video, Nayattu in Netflix and Kho Kho with Operation Java in ZEE 5. It is also good to see Mallika Sukumaran going through her usual kind of work, and we also see others who have much less to do in here, even though they all form a part.

How it finishes :: This is the third film of Jude Anthany Joseph after Ohm Shanthi Oshaana and Oru Muthassi Gadha, both of those movies being excellent feel-good entertainers, and the former had also won the Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value at the 45th Kerala State Film Awards, as well as making sure that Nazriya Nassim earned a Best Actress Award too. So, this one certainly came with high expectations, especially considering the fact that Anna Ben is a more complete actress in comparison to those who were part of his earlier ventures. The expectations do provide some good results here, as Sara’s is indeed a movie to watch without having too much of the emotional feeling while dealing with similar topics and its light-hearted take on the usual kind of stuff and with a desire for change in the attitudes of the society makes it an interesting watch during these days which still continue have a certain kind of COVID-19 lock-down restrictions going on here and there. Therefore, the audience of all age groups can give it a chance.

Release date: 5th July 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Jude Anthany Joseph
Starring: Anna Ben, Sunny Wayne, Dominic Arun, Siddique, Srindaa, Margret Antony, Siju Wilson, Dhanya Varma, Benny P Nayarambalam, Mallika Sukumaran, Prasanth Nair

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Demon Eye

Vampire Owl: This was the name of that artifact which the northern witches used.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that they were in contact with the demons?

Vampire Owl: Well, aren’t they supposed to be so?

Vampire Bat: They are usually in contact with those who rise from the grave.

Vampire Owl: Well, this is just one portal away from that.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but the demons are not really the undead in any way.

Vampire Owl: You do have something against some popular demons.

Vampire Bat: No, I am not talking about those tik-tok using humans.

Vampire Owl: At least, that episode is over for now.

Vampire Bat: You should know that demons, the masters of hell are not to be treated without extreme care.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sadie (Kate James) haven’t been in good terms with her father John (Darren Day) for a long time, and never really picks up his call, until one day, she decides to do just that. But she hears some stranhe noise from his room, and he quickly cuts the call, citing an emergency. This is the last time when Sadie sees her father, and the next thing he knows about him is that he is dead. Much to everyone’s surprise, he is supposed to have committed suicide by hanging. This forces Sadie to come back to the house, which is in a remote location, and has nobody else to take over the same. There she meets the man with whom the house keys were left with, Dan (Robert Hamilton), and Sadie feels strange to be at that house which has her old dolls and cameras being set in every room, corridor and staircase. Dan also leaves a job for her in a newspaper, passed on to her by her father who had worked there until his death.

So, what happens with the events here? :: She is immediately hired at the newspaper as a photographer, and finds Dan in an awkward position with Faye (Ellie Goffe) who is supposed to be his fiancee. Dan and Sadie get their first assignment to interview Craig (Liam Fox), a local man who is supposed to have seen The Burning Girl (Alannah Marie) – it was part of a folklore which was supposed to have become reality for some people. There is the legend of the Demon Eye that goes with it, as a girl was burned as a witch a long time ago in the name of causing a famine which she had predicted with the help of an amulet some time ago. But on the way, she sees a fire and a person standing in it, and as she tries to take a photo, the battery goes down. Even while interviewing, she gets into a fight with the man whom she was supposed to interview. She is confused about all the information she had managed to get from different people about her father who she hated. Is there a secret to be unveiled in relation to her father’s death?

The defence of Demon Eye :: We have been falling short of some interesting horror movies, and then this one comes up. It is that movie which deals with its subject in a slightly different way, and the subject itself has more than one angle to take care of. The quick scares are all there, and the most effective one is with a severed head in the bath-tub, then there are hands coming from under the bed, hellish hound kind of thing and the usual burned face with all the creepiness that it can have. The length of the movie is also less in comparison, not going to even ninety minutes, and it does make the most of it, with not having much from the dull moments there. The atmosphere is also good, with a setting in the middle of nowhere, with vast landscapes inspiring dark folktales all around. There is always something about focusing on the folklore, whether it is real or not. This setting will impress you, and with moments to remember, makes its point really well.

The claws of flaw :: Among the horror movies these days, Demon Eye is the one which is rather less known, or not known at all at this part of the world. It should have still achieved more with the premise – you know that with the title itself and also with the idea which is being explored here. Whenever there is a demon involved, you can take it further with ease. The demons might have been less scary in comparison to pandemics, but they are not yet completely out of the equation. We have so many moments which could have been something bigger, but manages to adjust with what it has, not trying to raise the bar. The effects of the low budget are there too, even though they have partially overcome that. The ending of the movie also felt a little rushed, because a horror movie like this requires something bigger, and the case of the climax is also the same. The main character also required to make more out of the situations here.

Performers of the soul :: Kate James plays the protagonist in this movie, even though IMDb hasn’t really listed here at the top, or with a photo. Even though there is some struggle in the beginning stages, she plays the character really well, and only gets better in the later stages. She is part of almost every scary scene in this movie, and the best one is that of the bath-tub with the severed head, even though more could have been done with a character like hers. Her portrayal of the troubled character who need psychiatric help from the early stages is believable, without being melodramatic. The other actors don’t seem to try too hard, but manages to hold on. She is way ahead in that case, when we look closely. The other young lady in the movie is the next person to catch our attention, even though she is not there for too long on the screen – Ellie Goffe does a very good job too. Robert Hamilton, Darren Day and Liam Fox, all of them manage just enough here.

How it finishes :: There are always some interesting horror movies of interest, if we keep checking for them. Demon Eye can be on the list too, depending on your preferences, even though you can’t expect it to do too much with its content. This is the kind of horror movie which you watch on Friday nights for some fun scares, and for that purpose, this film is successful, leaving no doubts behind. With a fine premise, from a situation in which things could have gone much worse, the movie takes itself back to make sure that as a whole, it is a pretty good work. There might be a few things left unexplained though, but through the same, it leaves the scope for a sequel, even as we are not really supposed to expect one, considering the response it had received otherwise. Do add this to your horror collection, as one more demon, this time with another witch-hunting past, will bring the entertainment to you.

Release date: 26th April 2019
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Ryan Simons
Starring: Darren Day, Liam Fox, Kate James, Ellie Goffe, Jimmy Allen, Alannah Marie, Robert Hamilton

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wretched

Vampire Owl: These humans often refer us by this name.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is clearly wrong, as we are not in a wretched condition yet.

Vampire Owl: I am pretty sure that the humans are in a more wretched situation now.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the Corona Virus has gotten into them pretty badly.

Vampire Owl: I believe that they have always been wretched enough.

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t say that for every one of them.

Vampire Owl: You have always been too kind of the humans.

Vampire Bat: And you have always been the cruel one.

Vampire Owl: Nobody in the known world are as cruel and wicked as the humans.

Vampire Bat: Now, this is something you don’t even say about the werewolves or zombies.

[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: A young girl names Megan (Sydne Mikelle) has a babysitting duty, only to find a creature feeding off the little girl, and as she tries to escape, it seems that Megan also meets a similar end in the hands of the demonic creature. Later we see Ben (John-Paul Howard), a youngster joining his father Liam (Jamison Jones), as his parents are in the middle of having a mutually agreed divorce. Ben gets to work in the local harbour in the countryside with his father on a temporary basis. At the same time, Liam is getting too close to his co-worker, Sara (Azie Tesfai) while Ben becomes good friends with a local girl working there, named Mallory (Piper Curda). Ben also can’t stop himself from noticing their new neighbours, Abbie (Zarah Mahler) and her son Dillon (Blane Crockarell). They do get lost in the woods, and Dillon gets called by a tree into the hole underneath, but they do manage to bring home a deer which their car had hit and killed, much to the dismay of Abbie’s husband Ty (Kevin Bigley). She tries to cut the animal for a dish, but messes it up.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Later, we see that a certain creature is coming out of the body of the deer through the cut which was made earlier, and Ben also sees something sitting on the rails of Abbie’s home – seemingly human, but something else in reality. It does disappear when the light goes off, but makes appearances inside the house of Abbie. Ben tries to mingle with the young people in the neighbourhood with a party, but is publicly embarrassed by the most desired girl of the locality JJ (Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden). As he returns home, he finds Abbie walking into the woods with her toddler, but is interrupted by Liam and Sara, leading to a dispute. Even though Abbie returns from the woods, she doesn’t seem to be the same. It doesn’t seem to be the usual trouble that haunts the small town, as there is more to it than what meets the eye. There is a force beyond one’s understanding, and if someone tries to solve the case, that person might be considered a lunatic. How many lives will be lost before such an evil vanquished?

The defence of The Wretched :: There is no doubt about this particular movie’s ability to score with the ambiance, as the setting as well as the neighbourhood where the people are living, can all be considered to be very much perfect. We have the small town where people are denying the existence of evil, but there has always been one in the woods, and a tree has been central to everything. To get to the depth of this evil, we have even more twisted ideas in there, and more of terrifying suspense will be revealed in the end. There are also some scares to support the same, and the nature around the place is indeed beautiful. It is more or less like a dark fairy-tale, as there are elements of a dark fantasy which runs right through. The characters are the kind of people whom you can relate to, and that makes the transformation caused by the witch feel even more real. After all, it is always nice to be taken back to the idea of that witch who used to haunt us during the childhood and reached as far as The Witch – until you had the older version of Evil Dead to scare you in the best possible way.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that the movie does try to have a little too much than a regular witch story, which doesn’t always work in its favour. The mixture doesn’t make the best use of its elements, especially as there are so many things which a witch possessing a lady or two can do. The terror could have had even stranger forms, and it also takes some time to make one feel the seriousness of the same. Some scenes are also not needed, even in a movie which goes just above one and half hours. Some people can even find this movie to be confusing in parts, and the creepy poster doesn’t come up in there, which is also disappointing. The mask does come though, and just like the other elements related to the witch, there could have surely been more. The ending has also been left open, maybe for a sequel, but that would need more, and not just the type of material that we have here. There are also some characters who could have done more – some are just left not explored well enough, and we feel the need to see them more.

Performers of the soul :: It is to be noted that the main characters are driven by a terrifying feeling – if you die, and nobody remembers you, where you really alive? That existential crisis is first discovered by John-Paul Howard who plays Ben well enough, but the truth is that it is not just his neighbour who has forgotten his son, as the darker secrets are there to make him realize the terror further. He plays the curious youngster who understands things happening around better than the others, and he does that well. At the same time, Piper Curda remains very cute and brings a lot of charm to the movie – not your usual leading actress, she brings a few joyful moments here and there in what really is a dark movie as it progresses. Zarah Mahler is really good as the young lady next door who is possessed by the witch, as she makes some really scary appearances, and there are scenes with her skin ripping off, which takes it to another level. Azie Tesfai with that deer-skull mask on her face is joy to watch, even though it is only for a short period of time to make a good enough bad witch. Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden could have been there for more though.

How it finishes :: We have always had the supernatural creatures running around in different movies, but the witches have always struggled to keep it going in comparison to vampires, werewolves, zombies and other creatures of the dark who have been competing well with the demons and ghosts. But The Wretched does manage to bring some of such interest back to us during these days, as the witch gets her due, without a broomstick, staying close to an evil tree in the forest. It has enough surprises in there to keep the whole thing going, and with such a setting to help its cause, The Wretched is sure to take you to a world of forest’s witches whom we have known since childhood. You can always expect more, but this is indeed a good beginning to a type of horror cinema which hasn’t made that much of success in comparison to the others. After all, elves and similar creatures of light are not the only ones you keep finding in the middle of the forest.

Release date: 19th July 2019
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Brett Pierce, Drew T Pierce
Starring: John-Paul Howard, Piper Curda, Zarah Karen Mahler, Kevin Bigley, Gabriela Quezada Bloomgarden, Richard Ellis, Blane Crockarell, Jamison Jones, Azie Tesfai

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vivarium

Vampire Owl: I have heard that Vive la France is an expression used in France to show patriotism. Does the title have anything to do with it?

Vampire Bat: Well, I think that they have chosen an interesting name. It means an enclosure made for keeping animals in semi-natural conditions for observation or study.

Vampire Owl: It is strange, but I will agree to it. The name does catch one’s attention.

Vampire Bat: Do you wish to rename your vampires quarters with this name?

Vampire Owl: I haven’t even come close to renaming it. The present one is a highly intellectual one.

Vampire Bat: There is nothing intellectual about naming a home as mansion.

Vampire Owl: You will not understand. I have always wanted to have a mansion.

Vampire Bat: I will not understand such foolishness, ever.

Vampire Owl: I would rather be anywhere other than a vivarium.

Vampire Bat: Well, lets see where our main characters here happens to be.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: A young couple, Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) and Gemma (Imogen Poots) want to purchase a house and move in. Both are not married, but looks forward to start a new life together soon. For the same, they visit an estate agent, Martin (Jonathan Aris), who seems to be acting strange, but comes up with a special offer for them. According to him, a new development known as Yonder might be perfect for a young couple who is trying to begin a new life far away from the busy city life. The place which as a series of homes looking almost the same, seems to be beautiful, and at the same time, silent, empty with no house seemingly occupied, and also giving the feeling of being out of the world. Martin shows the couple around house number nine and then they cannot find him around. Gemma and Tom try to leave Yonder, but however they keep moving, they end up in front of the same house. The car eventually runs out of fuel and they are forced to stay in house number nine.

So, what happens with the events here? :: They try to go up to the roof of the building and see if they can have a better look, but there is only an unlimited of series of similar houses to be seen, and nothing else. All houses seem so perfectly identical, and even the sky looks the same everywhere, with the clouds also being perfectly shaped. As they looked towards infinity, they decide to follow the perfect sun-like thing by jumping over walls of the houses, going in a straight line. But that also leaves them at the same place. Then at home, they find food items and groceries being delivered. But soon, they find a little boy being delivered – “Raise the child and be released” – the message written on the delivery box said so, and they begin to think that it is their only way to escape. At the same time, Tom also begins to dig of a pit hoping to escape underground, as there is no other way to go. Can the couple escape from this seemingly impossible situation? Or will they be stuck there forever? What is with this child who seems to be growing up faster than normal?

The defence of Vivarium :: The movie keeps its mystery elements strong, and it arouses the curiosity of the audience with ease, and as it gets into such an environment very early, we are also into it guessing soon enough. This time, it is a kid who is at the centre of everything, and you remember the other kids who were indeed dangerous, including Orphan and The Prodigy. Lord of the Flies proved it with a group of kids, while The Room had another kind of child, with The Influence having a child becoming a nightmare. The movie shows the dream of buying a villa, and shows how the protagonists are trapped by it. There are many points in the movie which become classic, and its idea of the aliens is nicely divergent. The creepiness here is not in frightening people, and the maze-like structure which the villa becomes, is going to make even a Minotaur proud. After all, we are in such a structure, with no chance to escape, as each and every day brings the same routine, while we are caught in it.

The claws of flaw :: There are areas where Vivarium goes unexplained, and even though it does try to live up to its name, there is not really an attempt to go into that further, or give a stronger feeling about it. The aliens seem to be a little bit clueless about what they are doing too, at a time when all these could have had better explanation that showing a cuckoo growing up – this doesn’t exactly become the same. As the two protagonists have been alone for a long time, there were more that they could have done, and further methods of escape could have also been attempted. The boy here could have also been a little bit threatening rather than remaining annoying all the time – you remember the boy of The Room who was surely developing into a genuine threat. More additions could have been done within the neighbourhood to make it further creepy or rather scary.

Performers of the soul :: Imogen Poots is a highly underrated actress, and she proves to be fantastic yet again in this movie. The audience from this part of the world might know her from Need for Speed, the game-based movie which had her as heroine, looking kind of like Anushka Sharma from an angle or two. There has been many movies with her name with it, but I don’t think that any of them had a theatre release around here, except for, maybe the A-1 cities with big malls, like Chennai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad – maybe cities like Pune and Ahmedabad had them too, but that wouldn’t have attracted much of the audience. The British actress takes this role to perfection, and you can see many situations reflecting the same. Jesse Eisenberg will be known for the audience here for Now You See Me and its sequel as well as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which were the last big movies of him widely released here, and he also does a fine job. The rest of the cast just gives some good support.

How it finishes :: At a time when people got caught in their homes, or at times the neighbourhood with nowhere to escape, Vivarium becomes a fine reflection, as the protagonists are also facing the same situation. They are left with a house in the neighbourhood, and they can’t go into any other houses around there, and are to spend their time inside with whatever food is being delivered from outside. It does feel like a certain kind of quarantine, but this is the kind from where there is no escape. There is no network coverage on the mobile phone, and the television only shows some strange lines and grains all around. Vivarium doesn’t seem to reach that greatness that it intended, but it is so much close to it. The movie makes us feel our emotions, and make us think about the usual themes about humanity and other species well enough. It is a movie that we should watch, and will like more or a little less according to our tastes. You can feel an experiment, even though not exactly in the form of The Belko Experiment or The Platform.

Release date: 18th May 2019
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Lorcan Finnegan
Starring: Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Danielle Ryan, Jonathan Aris, Molly McCann, Senan Jennings, Eanna Hardwicke, Come Thiry

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ema

Vampire Owl: I almost didn’t notice the absence of one “M” here.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this is not the Emma we know from the novels or its adaptations.

Vampire Owl: I had guessed the same because this was a Spanish one from Chile.

Vampire Bat: Even though a movie with the real Emma Woodhouse did release this year.

Vampire Owl: Yes, the movie which has the girl from The Witch, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, Anya Taylor‑Joy who was also seen in Shyamalan’s Split.

Vampire Owl: I haven’t read the Jane Austen novel yet, and that is a disappointment.

Vampire Bat: I would definitely agree to that, because I consider it to be her best work.

Vampire Owl: Even better than Pride and Prejudice, the much appreciated and adapted one?

Vampire Bat: Yes, indeed. My doubt is just regarding this Ema with a missing “M”.

[Gets a beetroot cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Ema (Mariana Di Girolamo) and her husband Gaston (Gael Garcia Bernal) were leading a fine life and had dance as part of their world. But their adopted son Polo (Cristian Suarez) is the big problem which they invited into their life, and he has an attitude bigger than her mother who has already been strange enough as far as Gaston is concerned. The boy was becoming more and more violent every day, and had caused a fire which had burned the face of Ema’s sister. Polo was not asked to change, but was sent back to the orphanage from where he came from, but Ema just can’t stop thinking about him, even though Gaston blames her for making the boy what he had become. They do not hate each other yet, but are not able to stop blaming each other for the situation where they had reached, from a premise which was good enough for both. It has been a long way down, and it was achieved too quickly.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Ema is quick to begin some new relationships, as she plans to file for a divorce, and the lawayer she chooses is Raquel (Paola Giannini). At the same time, she becomes very close to Anibal (Santiago Cabrera), a firefighter, and she also begins to live with Sonia (Giannina Fruttero), leaving her husband behind after a talk related to the boy who set fire to the house. She had also left the dance troupe run by her husband, and Sonia was with her along with a few friends in doing the same, as they begin dancing in the streets, following the form which her husband considered to be inferior. They find joy in the same, while Ema plans to get closer to Polo, even though the child security services forbids her from going anywhere near him, as he is now adopted by a new family where he is having a good life. But Ema is not someone who would stay behind, as she has her own plans with her life, and would stop at nothing to get what she wants. But will she choose the right path for the same?

The defence of Ema :: Whenever you look at the movie, it is a visually beautifully thing, whether the dance moves or the world which they live in – the flames are also as beautiful as it can get. The world is full of some lovely colours, and the streets with the buildings have some special charm – this is the first movie from Chile that most of us would be watching, even though we might have watched Spanish flicks from Spain and Argentina before, and in that case, this is a special experience too. The dance moves are particularly charming, as the lead character is specialized in the same, along with her friends too. The music is also lovely. There is the idea of parenting and motherhood being talked about, even though the mother-son relationship remains strange throughout the movie’s run. The twists happening throughout the movie which comes to that even more weird end is indeed a satisfactory thing. There is that wonderfully strange feeling which runs through here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie might feel too strange for most of the people, and it does travel a twisted path which doesn’t really bring the justification or poetic justice as one would expect to have. There is no positive message given here even though you did feel that there would be something coming up soon. The flick also feels rather indirect on many occasions. You also see that it is difficult to care for the characters here, and the motives are rather strange, not just for the main character, but also for a kid. We don’t really like the people in here, and when it applies to so many people, we will see this to be too uncommon. Some characters just feel unnecessary in the scheme of things. The manipulation seen here seems to be too complex as well as strange. It is also the kind of movie which cannot be put into any category. Some of the imagery are rather going too far, and a few of the dialogues could have been avoided.

Performers of the soul :: You just cannot take your eyes off Mariana Di Girolamo playing the titular character Ema here. We have a very complex character here, but she has made it feel perfect, and with the dance moves she has further perfection in moving her body around with the delightful music. She seems to be come the character with such precision that if we look at her on Google otherwise, it feels that she is an entirely different person, nothing from her beyond the movie coming into this particular character. Gael Garcia Bernal has a lesser role in comparison, and he manages that fine. This makes Paola Giannini the next person whom we get to focus on, and she is lovely as her character who goes through another path, but nicely has herself attached to the main character with the help of a little bit of manipulation. She is also joy to watch, while Giannina Fruttero seems to play another character which has some more change than one would expect – we see her contributions to be delightful too, as female characters score high in this movie, thanks to the performances.

How it finishes :: Not to be confused with Jane Austen’s Emma, this Ema comes with something very much divergent when you look at many other movies which have dealt with a premise like this, with an adopted child as the centre of attraction. The film’s biggest advantages are its visuals, music and an unpredictable character in the centre who is more than what meets the eye. Ema might not be the movie for everyone, but it is the kind of film that we would consider to be a successful experiment, even with its troubles which comes from the same areas where it has its positives. Chile is another South American country that you feel the need to visit, and you get to see some of it in this movie, even though the film doesn’t go on to show us the glorious side much – until we visit those charming areas like Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts, Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception on San Cristobal Hill and many others, we will be happy with having watched one Chilean movie, and another Spanish film to the credit.

Release date: 26th September 2019
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Pablo Larrain
Starring: Mariana Di Girolamo, Gael Garcia Bernal, Paola Giannini, Santiago Cabrera, Giannina Fruttero, Josefina Fiebelkorn, Paula Hofmann, Paula Luchsinger, Antonia Giesen, Catalina Saavedra, Mariana Loyola, Susana Hidalgo, Cristian Felipe Suarez

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Proxima

Vampire Owl: Have you heard about the vampire team planning to travel to Proxima Centauri?

Vampire Bat: No, such a plan was discarded after Doctor Frankenstein created a portal and ended up being crazy for three weeks.

Vampire Owl: It is depressing, because vampire space travel was only beginning to get popular.

Vampire Bat: You could have some temporary relief by watching a movie on space travel.

Vampire Owl: This one seems to be drama and not really science fiction.

Vampire Bat: Drama is more close to life than science fiction as far as humans are concerned.

Vampire Owl: I wouldn’t disagree with that statement. They always create some drama.

Vampire Bat: It is also the one reason why humans stopped evolving.

Vampire Owl: I do feel that they can still evolve like some of the alien species which we had met while traveling through one of those portals.

Vampire Bat: Well, lets see how far they can go and fight their own upcoming extinction.

[Gets a carrot cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sarah Loreau (Eva Green) is preparing herself for a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station, after different stages of training on Earth, and a final quarantine which would follow. She is very excited about it, as she finally had the chance which she was waiting for, throughout these years. She had kept so many things away just for this special opportunity which rarely comes to her field. But her daughter Stella Akerman Loreau (Zelie Boulant-Lemesle) is certainly not even close to being happy about it. She does like the idea that her mother is going to the stars, but hates the fact that she has to leave her for such a long period of time, first out of the nation and then far away from Earth itself. This would mean that Stella and her cat would have to stay in a new house in a new neighbourhood in a distant city, with her father Thomas Akerman (Lars Eidinger) as the parents had separated, despite falling in love while working at the same space agency.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But things have to go as planned, and they have to follow the procedure, as she has qualified with great difficulty, and now there will be no replacement in her place. Sarah leaves for further training, much to the dismay of Stella who is left to adjust with the new home and the new school were she keeps struggling with Mathematics and also in making new friends, being a new loner. At the same time, Sarah has some initial struggles with keeping up, and her colleague from the United States, Mike Shannon (Matt Dillon) considers her to be more of a space tourist, as he is a war veteran who has served in Irag and Afghanistan. But he does appreciate her hard work as time progresses, but as she develops an infection in a new wound, Sarah has further struggles to go with. At the same time, the bond between the mother and daughter which was very strong and special seems to be having some cracks here and there. Now, Sarah has to keep up both her lives going, and it is a question whether she can do the same.

The defence of Proxima :: As one would expect, the movie thrives in the work of Eva Green, who excels as the astronaut mother who struggles to keep the two sides of her life going. The movie serves as a reflection of anyone who is trying to seek new heights, but cannot let go of the old world to which the person belongs to. The training sequences are nice, and the emotional moments are all in control, with everything safely handled by Eva herself, for this is her movie. As the movie was shot in different original training facilities of the European Space Agency, everything feels more real, just like the feelings. The movie’s progress is also steady, even though we are given the idea of what to expect in the beginning stages itself. As the movie chooses to go realistic over everything else, we do have the interesting family drama which depicts the mother-daughter relationship without much of a trouble. In the same, there is quality guaranteed.

The claws of flaw :: Proxima had scope to be something more, with both its dramatic side and it could have been an action thriller of a lesser level too, with more twists being added to the training sessions and time of quarantine. People who are looking for some science fiction are going to be disappointed, because the same is not there, and we can say the same about the action and thriller side too. It could have also had more of emotional moments together, and there could have been more of bonding scenes between the astronauts in the facility. The fact that it keeps changing the language in between is a little bit strange, as it remaining a French movie with English subtitles would have been fair enough. It could have also used some flashback to add to the tale, because our protagonist here does seem to have had a long interesting past. If it had used all the elements perfectly, there was chance for a flawless film here, but Proxima does come somewhat close.

Performers of the soul :: With birthday on the 6th of July, it is a good time to give Eva Green some lovely birthday wishes, as she is one actress who has been special throughout her career, reminding us of some fine roles which she had played so well – this movie is not that much of an exception in that case too. The lovely actress has that kind of movies in her list which I have loved to watch, with the last few being my personal favourite Dark Shadows, the grand sequel 300: Rise of an Empire, the much different Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to be added to the list. She is fantastic in this movie, and we see the emotions running wild on one side, and the determination of the character on the other – Eva is delightful to watch in this film too, and she carries the movie on her shoulders with so much of ease. Zelie Boulant who plays the daughter also comes up with a fine performance. Matt Dillon does a fine job in the supporting role too. The rest just working along, as this one is indeed the Eva Green show from the first moment to the time when the credits starts rolling.

How it finishes :: It is no surprise that Proxima‘s biggest asset is Eva Green, and the same is reflected throughout the flick, with the focus never really shifting from her, as she brings the magnificent performance to elevate this movie to where it would have been, with another actress in her place. But those who watch this movie should note that it is not science fiction unlike some idea being given here. As the movie stays as close to a realistic world as possible even with an upcoming space travel, Proxima does deliver a strong drama which works with the mother-daughter relationship very well. It is the kind of movie that one can choose to watch during Eva Green’s birthday week, and the French actress’ work is reason enough to go for it. If you are going for science fiction in space or other planets, we do have those other titles, and expecting a Gravity, Interstellar or The Martian in this case will be wrong, as the tendency will be there as people see the lady wearing the spacesuit on the poster, but that is just one side of the tale.

Release date: 27th November 2019
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Alice Winocour
Starring: Eva Green, Matt Dillon, Zelie Boulant, Lars Eidinger, Sandra Huller, Aleksey Fateev, Nancy Tate, Svetlana Nekhoroshikh, Anna Sherbinina, Vitaly Jay, Lionel Ferra, Manuela Aguzzi, Gregoire Colin, Trond-Erik Vassal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pinocchio

Vampire Owl: I know this person very well from childhood itself.

Vampire Bat: It is a fictional character from the children’s novel The Adventures of written by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi of Florence.

Vampire Owl: Okay, so it is from the land of Renaissance indeed,

Vampire Bat: Yes, most people don’t really know that this tale is not really English.

Vampire Owl: But it went on to become so popular all around the world.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is that kind of a story that appeals to everyone.

Vampire Owl: And it is a fine story to read for the children of all ages.

Vampire Bat: We also add an Italian movie dealing with the same story to our list on this day.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this one will become a fine deviation from our usual path.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and takes us back to childhood too, at least in parts.

[Gets a green apple cake and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: Geppetto (Roberto Benigni), a poor Italian carpenter has a hard time making his living, as he rarely gets any work, and nobody appreciates him for the quality products which he come up with. But one day, he sees a puppet theatre in the town, and becomes a lot interested in creating a puppet all by himself. He feels that he could create something special which would be appreciated all around the world for its beauty on wood. He manages to get a log of wood which its owner wanted to leave behind because it seemed to have some kind of magic associated with it. Geppetto spends all his time creating the perfect puppet, and in the end, when he finishes the same, he finds out that it can talk. After naming the puppet Pinocchio (Federico Ielapi), he decides to take him as his son. But the newfound son out of the log isn’t really an obedient one, as he keeps exercising his freedom against the wishes of his father.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Pinocchio does get into trouble due to his actions, and Geppetto decides to send him to school, so that he would study well and also mingle with the other children of the town. Geppetto sells his inherited jacket to buy Pinocchio an ABC book which is necessary to accepted into the school. Pinocchio does go for his first day at school, but notices a puppet theater, and he ends up selling the book to buy the ticket. In the theater, the other puppets notice Pinocchio among the viewers and calls him up the stage, thus messing up the show. A furious puppeteer Mangiafuoco (Gigi Proietti) catches Pinocchio and locks him in his caravan with the others puppets, and leaves the town. Mangiafuoco who has been very angry about what had happened, plans to use Pinocchio as firewood to help cooking his dinner. Pinocchio begs him to release him in order to return home from his father, who would be very much worried by then.

And what else is to follow around here with the puppet? :: Mangiafuoco decides to let him go, and seeing his compassion towards the other puppets who he saves from being burned, he gives him five gold coins to give to the poor carpenter whom he calls father. Pinocchio is really happy about it, and tries to get home as soon as possible, but is lost in his way, not sure where he is heading. As he tries to find the right directions, he meets Fox (Massimo Ceccherini) and Cat (Rocco Papaleo) who discovers that the puppet has some gold coins with him which they can use during their jobless ways. They tell him a tale about the Field of Miracles, a special place where they can bury the coins, and a tree full of money will grow rapidly. But they intend to murder the puppet and take the money. They make some fine plans for the same, and takes a room in the nearby tavern. Pinocchio is not aware of such sinister plans, and despite being warned by Talking Cricket (Davide Marotta). Can the puppet keep the money and finally get to his father who is looking for him?

The defence of Pinocchio :: The movie, as expected is a journey to a special world, and those who have known the tale before, will relate to the same very well. There is a beautiful world that provides a certain amount of enchantment close to the original version, and we have one puppet who is not familiar with the ways of humans going through. Roberto Benigni whom we know from the movie Life is Beautiful is here again playing the father figure, and that is indeed beautiful, as we remember how he managed to be a great father there – here, he is not far behind either. The one who used his imagination to shield his son from the terror within a Nazi concentration camp is not to be forgotten that easily. Marine Vacth who plays the fairy and many others also catch our attention, being out of the usual world, getting close to fantasy. With the cat, fox, snail, cricket, characters, the movie is as child-friendly as anything can get, and therefore makes itself a fine watch for the families. Well, a journey through rural Italy of those times never really gets to be less interesting for the eyes.

The claws of flaw :: Pinocchio might be different in looks from what many people might have imagined him earlier. The movie could have had a certain amount of visible magic in there too, not as being regular part of the proceedings, but as something completely out of the world. For the same, more special effects could have been used to create a visual extravaganza, because even lesser films these days seem to display the grandeur – after all, this is a children’s classic of a higher level on print. The fact that the puppet keeps falling into trouble due to not listening to the good advice makes it feel repetitive, especially for the adults who would be a long way past this tale by now – even I don’t remember most of what I read during my childhood. It could have also had more focus on the father-son relationship because the puppet as the adventurer is not of that much interest as a person, and we have to look forward to the fairy to find the next lovable character, followed by the snail. The growing nose could have also been used better.

How it finishes :: As far as the idea of Pinocchio from The Adventures of Pinocchio by the Italian author Carlo Collodi is concerned, this one manages the same well, and it is to be noted that usually the adaptations are supposed to come in the form of cartoons. Making a live-action movie with this type of characters is indeed difficult, but we can see that they have managed everything pretty well here. The Adventures of Pinocchio has been the world’s most translated book excluding religious works and had such a great impact on different cultures, also being a children’s favourite. But we see that it also explores the human condition, about what it means to be human, right here. We do have that usual child who doesn’t like to go to the school, and is not interested in obeying parents, with a certain love for entertainment and adventure over the rest, and is naive when facing the dangers of the outside world. Yes, this version is a successful one too, and you can choose to watch it, without expecting anything too special or highly innovative.

Release date: 19th December 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Matteo Garrone
Starring: Roberto Benigni, Federico Ielapi, Rocco Papaleo, Massimo Ceccherini, Marine Vacth, Gigi Proietti, Paolo Graziosi, Massimiliano Gallo, Maria Pia Timo, Davide Marotta, Alessio Di Domenicantonio

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Anveshanam

What is the movie about? :: Aravind (Jayasurya) and Kavitha (Sruthy Ramachandran) are living a happy life in one of those skyscrapers of the city with their two children. Their family seems to be the one perfect world, as their neighbour and close family friend Dr. Gowtham (Vijay Babu) says. There is the smell of a fairy-tale happily ever after, all around there. But one day, their son, Ashwin is hospitalized, and he is supposed to have fallen off the stairs of the apartment. It is Gowtham and Kavitha who brings him to the hospital, while Aravind was spending his time alone after a fight in the television channel where he was working. Dr. Ashok (Srikanth Murali) makes no delay in admitting the boy and trying to save his life, but the head nurse, Sony (Lena) has a doubt regarding the marks found on the boy’s body, and she couldn’t stop herself from informing the police.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Sony suspects that the boy was brutally beaten, and it was a case of child abuse. As she herself was a victim of abuse as a child, she wastes no time in labeling this one in the same way. Latha (Leona Lishoy) and Alphonse (Nandhu) are the police officers on the case, with the former into a few months of pregnancy. They have a list of suspects starting with Aravind who had left office early without telling anyone, and had also visited his apartment. The descriptions provided by Kavitha and Gowtham also do not match one another. The hospital also seems to neglecting some facts, as the boy finally dies, things get even more complicated. The Dr. Faris (Lal) enters the scene from the side of the police to examine things further, and this complex sequence of events need an explanation before next morning – can it be done?

The defence of Anveshanam :: The movie, as expected, begins well, and brings the idea into focus very soon. There are many chances of interesting guesses to be made, as we know the main characters who are put into a situation in a hospital. We are beginning to suspect too many people, from the father and mother, to the neighbour, from the nurse to the doctor, who are all acting strange, and something fishy is going on there, as the police also begins to suspect. As the unsettling atmosphere is built early, and things begin quickly, there is an interesting journey here towards the interval, from where everything slows down and drags. It is only then that we realize that the movie could have risen further with its theme, but stays with a safe zone to which not many people can connect in the right way. But the performances eclipse the same at most parts.

The claws of flaw :: The movie losses its strength in the second half, as it moves from the investigative suspense thriller to a melodramatic and preachy family piece. It struggles to focus on what could have been its strengths, and ends with confusion, as its final moments did show signs of weariness. The movie had the premise and the idea, while the trailer could nicely create interest in the mind of audience. It is when the idea came on the screen, that it never really got its characters going well enough, even though there are many interesting ones. It couldn’t prove its point either, despite trying to go preachy – it could have at least justified its title and went on with the investigation to find what exactly they were searching for. But the movie by the end, decides to go to the middle of nowhere, and declares it fit to sit in no man’s land with some verbal gun shots all around.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya once again leads the way, and here we have his presence in a thriller, and as a father figure, this calls for a different approach with a mystery needed to be brought to light. He is not The Great Father kind of father who spends time in wearing fancy jackets and beating up people, and we don’t have that kind of an irritating gun loving strange character of a girl here, and that is the first case of relief which we have here. We have loved his ways of solving mysteries in Pretham and Pretham 2, but this one has his character in a crisis rather than the one solving it. The man who is still best remembered for Aadu has one more serious flick for which he will be remembered as the sole lead – other than Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam and a few others. Anjaam Pathiraa had Kunchacko Boban bringing one thing, and Jayasurya here continues that journey through the drama, but at the receiving end.

Further performers of the soul :: Shruti Ramachandran was seen in Sunday Holiday as the earlier love interest of the main character, and also in Pretham where she played ghost who was haunting a beach side resort and looking for revenge. Here, she has a bigger and stronger role to perform and one would remember this even more. Lena also remains strong, but her character stays underdeveloped despite supposed to be having such a trouble past and childhood. Vijay Babu is very good in the emotional sequences, and Leona Lishoy goes through a pretty good run. Lal is there only for what can be termed as an extended cameo. Nandhu also adds well in a pretty good police role. Srikanth Murali plays the doctor well, as he is the one who becomes the centre of attraction as he treats the boy who is supposed to have fallen from the stairs, a case which leads to all the drama.

How it finishes :: After Anjaam Pathiraa, the audience was expecting another top level investigation thriller, but what we see here is an investigation drama, which seems to have some nice ideas, but is not displayed that well on the screen – this could have become better as a short story, like Roald Dahl’s Lamb to the Slaughter, something which had a crime and what followed with the weapon used for murder. But instead, Anveshanam tries to be many things at ones, and also tries to be too preachy in the end – it is what makes this interesting premise struggle as it moves towards the end. Still, the movie is to be watched for how it builds the tension and suspense within limited space, and while being set in a few hours of time, almost sticking to the Aristotlean Unities except for those multiple flashbacks which keep coming.

Release date: 31st January 2020
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Prasobh Vijayan
Starring: Jayasurya, Leona Lishoy, Shruti Ramachandran, Vijay Babu, Lal, Lena, Nandhu, Jai Vishnu, Shaju K S, Srikanth Murali

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Boss Baby

Vampire Owl: More bosses and more babies? I thought we were done with them as Storks finished.

Vampire Bat: Well, the boss is a baby, and the baby is a boss. There is no more to add to it.

Vampire Owl: I have a feeling that this could be about Mavis. You remember our time with her earlier.

Vampire Bat: She is not a boss. And the baby here is human.

Vampire Owl: Dude, every human is just a simple bite away from not being human.

Vampire Bat: What? You bite babies and kids these days? When did you start doing it?

Vampire Owl: No! I was referring to the werewolves and zombies.

Vampire Bat: There has been no zombie infection since last redmoon, when the witches threw that beach party.
Werewolves are just too angry to go out of their territory. You will find no chance of humans getting bitten.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein had informed us that humans were developing new vaccines leading to zombie outbreaks.

Vampire Bat: Even Frankenstein can’t stop humans and their perpetual greed. I am sure that he knows about that too ever since he turned undead.

[Gets some jackfruit chips and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Templeton (Tobey Maguire) tells the story of his childhood, from the time when he was seven years old, living with his parents, Ted (Jimmy Kimmel) and Janice (Lisa Kudrow). He lives a happy life as their only son, getting all their love, and is not ready to share the same with a brother or sister. He keeps an imaginary world with himself, where he goes on missions, mostly saving the day all by himself, and this fictional world is a significant part of his existence. It is due to the same that he is not able to believe when a baby arrives there dressed in a black suit. He feels that his new brother, the baby (Alec Baldwin) receives rather too much attention while he is ignored by his parents. They keep dealing with the baby’s needs and Templeton gets almost nothing. He is frustrated and envious of this new person who has stolen his world, and the love which only he is to receive.

So, what happens next? :: Templeton also feels that the baby is acting strange, but the parents are not ready to check that due to their love for the new arrival into their family. He is also shocked to know that the baby can talk like an adult. One day, he listens to the baby talking to the other babies of the neighbourhood and understands that they are on a mission. He tries to get the evidence, but gets grounded. So this baby, who turns out to the the boss of the rest of the babies in the neighbourhood, the Boss Baby, after their confrontations, decides to tell Templeton the truth. He makes Templeton suck on a pacifier which takes them to Baby Corp, a place where babies are doing business, sending infant love right after the babies are produced. Only a selected group of babies are chosen into business there, and there they try to keep the love for babies active. But now, they are facing a crisis, with puppy love overtaking the love for babies.

And what is to follow with this adventure? :: It has been a global phenomenon, as puppies having been taking over everything, more than doubling the love humans have for babies, leaving very little for cats, birds and the others. If the Boss Baby doesn’t succeed in finding the secret files regarding what Puppy Co, the big puppy supplying organization is planning to do as a surprise which will completely eliminate all others including babies from the love list of humans. The Boss Baby is at the house because Templeton’s parents work at the Puppy Co, and he says that he will go back to business at Baby Corp after his mission is accomplished. But if he fails to do what he is assigned to do, he won’t be taken back into business, and will have to settle in with Templeton as his brother, his memories about Baby Corp gone. Templeton, wanting the Boss Baby to go away, decides to help him. But with puppies dominating further, can babies finally get the love the deserve?

The defence of The Boss Baby :: The visuals are really good, and the cuteness is clearly visible throughout this one. The kids are going to love this one from the beginning itself. It doesn’t matter how much close to reality this one has intended to get, the truth is that a lot of people these days love puppies more than babies. There are people who even make the public statement about the same, and don’t want to have babies – it makes this movie even more relevant to our world. How some people manage to hate babies, and still love puppies is a surprise to many, but we know how people are, and what they are capable of. The funny side remains mostly strong with this one – how the baby works with his suit and suitcase is so much fun to watch. The message is to spread love, and not to keep it inside, or limited to someone – there is always more than one person who deserve the love, which only multiplies and comes back when given.

The claws of flaw :: There is the certainty of strangeness concerning this movie which has a baby as the boss – it is rather the next level of having something that doesn’t really come together. It keeps itself far away from reality all the time, and it never even tries to come back and be normal for a second. We have already seen the baby factories in Storks too. There are moments when the comedy doesn’t work too, and the world of imagination shown within this movie is rather a little too stretched and not needed. By the end, The Boss Baby gets rather predictable though, and its surprise regarding the villain is not that much of a shocker either. Well, this much was set, and we wonder why not some more here. It is the world of wonderful animated movies, and here they have a baby as the main character, and there should have been more, I am sure that a lot of people will agree to getting more with the movie’s little protagonist brothers.

How it finishes :: The Boss Baby will also have a sequel coming up, and it will be interesting to see how this tale of baby business magnet will go on. Based on the 2010 picture book of the same name, which was written and illustrated by the American author Marla Frazee, this one surely has developed a lot from the material. The looks of The Boss Baby is of the level of big animated movies like Zootopia, Moana, Frozen, Epic, How to Train Your Dragon, Big Hero 6, Inside Out and Kung Fu Panda, but is never close to getting around that level in its content. This is the kind of world in which the lost fish as well as martial arts expert Panda gets sequels, and so whatever the baby gets is a bonus – after all, we don’t want fishes and pandas taking over the place of babies like those puppies did. This one doesn’t seem to be going for the Academy Awards with this, but with the entertainment side, The Boss Baby is a leader.

Release date: 31st March 2017
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Tom McGrath
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Miles Bakshi, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Tobey Maguire, Lisa Kudrow, Conrad Vernon, James McGrath, David Soren, Nina Zoe Bakshi, Tom McGrath, Walt Dohrn, James Ryan Eric Bell Jr, ViviAnn Yee, Edie Mirman, James McGrath, James Izzo

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Storks

Vampire Owl: Have you ever met the Vampire Stork?

Vampire Bat: What? There is no such thing as a Vampire Stork. It is not natural.

Vampire Owl: Well, a Vampire Panda is not natural, but we have one.

Vampire Bat: But we know that it is Kung Fu Panda in disguise.

Vampire Owl: Still, the Vampire Stork became a strange reality near Bermuda Triangle.

Vampire Bat: In that case, it could possibly be a Zombie Stork.

Vampire Owl: Well, the investigation teams are on their way.

Vampire Bat: What if the stork is to deliver a baby instead?

Vampire Owl: Storks don’t deliver babies!

Vampire Bat: Just watch the movie and find out!

[Gets three cups of lemon tea with 50-50 biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: It was quite natural for the storks of Stork Mountain to deliver babies to the families all around the world, and each one of them found extreme happiness in doing the same. They had delivered millions of babies to people until one stork named Jasper (Danny Trejo) attempted to keep a little baby girl for himself one day, which changed it all. The tracker which provided the location of the family to which the baby was to be delivered is lost, and Jasper goes away from there in shame and disgust. With no option left, the storks adopt the baby, and name the new orphan as Tulip (Katie Crown) who grows up within the company. The CEO of the company, Hunter (Kelsey Grammer) discontinued all baby delivery after that and replaced the same with package delivery going by the name Cornerstore.com. After doing the same, he has been focusing on the stocks only, and by being mean to everyone, made the firm a succesful company based on exploitation of its work force.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: Eighteen years after she was adopted, Tulip who is an adult now, is working with Cornerstore, and regularly messes up things. Hunter is not happy that Tulip keeps bringing the stocks down with whatever she s doing at the factory. As Hunter is the typical boss who doesn’t want to deal with the emotional side looking only for profits, he just wants to fire Tulip, and he assigns the task to Junior (Andy Samberg) who is to take his place after he becomes the chairman. Junior can’t get himself to fire the girl, and so he transfers her to the mail room which doesn’t really get any mail these days. While she spends all her time there alone, Junior hopes that he can finally get the promotion and be the boss to be in control of the operations.

And, what is to follow next in the animated adventure? :: At the same time, Nate Gardner (Anton Starkman) is a lone boy who is in need of some attention as his parents Henry Gardner (Ty Burrell) and Sarah Gardner (Jennifer Aniston) are always working, not even trying to spare five or ten minutes with their child. He sends a letter to the storks, hoping that he could get a baby brother to play with. This letter which reaches Cornerstone, has Tulip’s attention as she has the first letter in a long time. She immediately enters the baby factory and use the letter to make the baby-making machine work. The result is a pink-haired baby girl. Junior arrives at the machine to try and shut down the machine, and injures his wings. With him unable to fly after the injury to his wings, the two uses Tulip’s flying machine which she had invented to work while delivering for Cornerstone, and plans to get the baby home before anyone else finds out. But can they successfully do that?

The defence of Storks :: This movie might be the cutest that any animated flick can get, with babies as the centre of attraction. The kids are going to love this movie like no other, as the cuteness factor is at its best beginning from the birth of the first baby itself – then there are a lot of babies coming together in the end, and it is the explosion of cuteness on the screen, like happiness was for Trolls. Then the movie gets to another sweet level, and with its short run-time, never get go of that quality. Along with the same, there is a lot of fun in store here, along with the emotional side which tells us how important family is – spending time with children is that significant. The movie also talks about that cruel mindset of the corporate world, which is clearly against anything human or close to life. The profit-oriented society is killing so many families with all the focus on money-making, right? Well, loving humans is not that easy as loving money, isn’t it?

The claws of flaw :: One has to feel that Storks did rush through the proceedings, and everything happens rather too fast. We could have slowly and smoothly moved through all those sweet, cute moments, but this one was surely in a hurry – we also wanted to see more of the wolves and penguins in this flick; maybe there can be spin-offs. The basic idea about the storks might also be a little outdated, and the myth might also go over the head of more than one person or two. There is also the chance the main characters might feel irritating at times. One also wonders how cute the babies can remain, as the teenage fury seems to come and affect everyone a little too early these days; the age out of cuteness beginning too early too be exact, as we see in that Carnival Cinemas advertisement. We are also tend to wonder if this could have been even better on the lines of Moana, Zootopia, Frozen, Inside Out, Big Hero 6, Epic, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, or such kind, with an even better story.

How it finishes :: Nicholas Stoller had directed a movie which is often considered among the worst movies which were appreciated by the US critics, The Neighbors, but Storks is that kind of a movie from him and Doug Sweetland that everybody will love to keep falling in love with, again and again. Well, have you seen this kind of cuteness for a long time? The animated movies usually take themselves as cute, and don’t include any extra cuteness, but not with Storks, which adds the cuteness as the secret, special ingredient. When this cuteness is guaranteed with entertainment, it is nothing less than a crime not to get your little ones here. A colourful movie is what is needed to get some colour into your life, and Storks might be the perfect flick to do that – you will love babies more for sure, after watching Storks. I have myself found myself more cuteness and love after this one.

Release date: 23rd September 2016
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland
Starring: Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Danny Trejo, Chris Smith, Awkwafina, Ike Barinholtz, Amanda Lund, Jorma Taccone

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Dangal

Vampire Owl: I am not that much into wrestling these days. Even though I do wrestle my own demons every day.

Vampire Bat: It is not that much of a wrestling if you look at it from another person’s perspective.

Vampire Owl: But they are good. They even breathe fire once in a week.

Vampire Bat: Why do they breathe fire inside your mind? Can’t they do it at better places?

Vampire Owl: They are my personal demons. They should wrestle at my place only.

Vampire Bat: You should ask Doctor Frankenstein to get a mind projector so that we all can know how the wrestling competition goes.

Vampire Owl: It should be banned in the castle due to the violence involved, so no Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: You surely got a violent mind there.

Vampire Owl: What can I do? It is in my blood because I drank the elixir of violence during our expedition to the Northern Kingdoms.

Vampire Bat: You should understand that the right thing to drink is the elixir of life. This is a banned drink.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) is a former wrestler and a national champion who lives in Balali, a village in Haryana. Despite being a very good wrestler who was better than most of the others around, he had to choose a fruitful job and leave the sport because his father asked him to do the same. But he still remembers the sport, and can beat almost every local champion – his love for wrestling is something that stays, and seems to be something which is forever. Now he does have a good job, but he is not satisfied with his achievements which doesn’t involve what he was so good at. When his wife Daya Shobha Kaur (Sakshi Tanwar) gets pregnant, he declares that his unborn son is going to win the medal for the nation. The superstitious villagers come up with many ideas which would make sure that the child born will be male and not female, and Mahavir awaits the birth of the son who will make him proud.

So, what happens next? :: But things don’t go as planned, as despite trying different strange ideas brought by the village’s residents, Mahavir ends up having one girl after the other, making the total number as four. This leads to him having no more hope about the same, and goes on concentrating on his job as well as household activities. Geeta Phogat (Fatima Sana Shaikh) and Babita Kumari (Sanya Malhotra) are his eldest daughters, who get to live into his dreams, after they beat up the boys who make fun of them. As he realises that a medal is a medal and gold is gold, no matter whoever brings that, he begins training them hard. The girls have to start working hard early in the morning, and even has to cut their hair short, which bothers them in the beginning – they begs him to let them live their life like the other children, but ends up doing what he wants them to do, as he leaves them with no other choice.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: It is the beginning of an adventure which will go and on, getting Mahavir closer and closer to his dreams through his two girls. The time when the girls were wrestling and defeating boys is over, as Geeta goes on to win the junior championships at the state and then the national level, finally getting to capture the national senior championship. It meant that she had to go to the National Sports Academy in Patiala to train with other girls from all around India for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. This changes things, as the coach at the academy, Pramod Kadam (Girish Kulkarni) doesn’t want Mahavir to influence Geeta anymore, and works hard to make sure that only his own methods are correct, and in no way will Geeta do according her father’s methods. Geeta gives in and follows her coach, as well as the other girls, spending their time eating fast food, watching silly romantic movies and having all kinds of fun. Deviating from the ways of her father, can Geeta make it big without her father, or will she find a way to balance everything on her way to gold?

The defence of Dangal :: Dangal is one of those sports drama movies which will save all the other sports from the evil onslaught of cricket which threatens to destroy each and every other sport in India. The Malayalam movie Godha also tries to do the same, as wrestling gets more than one movie to try and do the same. This is also relevant in the times when gender inequality, female foeticide and child marriage don’t intend to stop completely; it becomes even more relevant considering the part of India where this occurs. This is certainly bigger than Lagaan, not just because this is supporting an attention-seeking sport, but also because that inherent foolishness in that flick doesn’t show its head here; the superiority in comparison to M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is rather clear. For Aamir Khan, this should be one of his best performances too – he earlier had PK, and now he has this one, and not another Dhoom, which is indeed nice. When so many actors are playing safe, we have to appreciate the experimenting the man has been doing with not just his acting, but also the physique. Then there is the patriotic feeling, and we are left with the need for more gold of the nation.

The claws of flaw :: You will find that this movie is so much about the trainer rather than the wrestlers, despite the fact that the girls do some nice job. It is rather strange to see the progress of things here, as the tale here is also rather predictable. The idea of a father making his daughters do only what he wants them to do, doesn’t seem to be that good an idea in every case, and one has to wonder what would have happened if the training had failed – all things are nice when they are successful. Then there is Bollywood, bringing some melodrama with father’s love, as it has a history of bringing parents’ love to the next level of tears – with such a nice beginning, the emotions running around just misses the grip. The movie is also too lengthy, and has its slow moments which pull the flick right back. The climax is predictable, with the last minute win, with a memory of something from the father – it is where the realistic take will have only second place to the emotional addition of low level thrills.

How it finishes :: We already know how good Bollywood is with biographical drama, and there are so many examples of the same, from Neerja to the more fictionalised Rustom and Airlift which was even more acclaimed. It is more like the genre that saves Bollywood from the usual, repetitive stuff that it usually comes up with, adding some superstar to it. Dangal is no different, as it gets its strong emotional side to work in favour of the idea, and tells the tale of two sisters, Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari who go on to win medals at the Commonwealth Games, and their father Mahavir Singh Phogat who trains them. Dangal is very much successful in making the drama work, making it the highest grossing Indian movie of all-time, and also boasts of a great record overseas, especially in China. Well, most of the Bollywood movies go one way, and Dangal chooses another path, and among those movies which go the right way, this one is the flick that made the most impact. For more twisted of such divergent paths, there are Phobia and Raman Raghav 2.0.

Release date: 23rd December 2016
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Nitesh Tiwari
Starring: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Aparshakti Khurana, Ritwik Sahore, Vivan Bhatena, Kaustubh Pile, Girish Kulkarni, Shishir Sharma, Meenu Prajapati, Badrul Islam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Role Models

What is the movie about? :: Gautham Shekhar (Fahadh Faasil) is a man who is always concentrating on his work, and is so busy earning money, that the only person whom he regularly speaks to, is the mobile’s assistant app. He wakes up early in the morning and goes through everything according to the schedule. The boss of his company (Dileesh Pothan) is always calling him names in front of his colleagues despite his hardwork, and he lives his life according to calculations, drinking the maximum amount of water and even making sure that he goes to the urinal frequently according to plan. He has no friends and no love, and he is always busy, and when he is not busy, he is just asleep at night. If he ever gets any time to do anything, he dedicates those moments for studying too, and he has special interest in studies regarding astronomy. He has declared himself cent percent against having fun because it is of absolutely no use.

So, what happens next? :: His father and college professor Shekharan (Renji Panicker) is too worried about the same, and therefore contacts his son’s former best friends from college, Rexy Joseph (Sharafudheen) and Jyothish Narayanan (Vinayakan) whom he had himself evicted from the institution to make sure that Gautham wouldn’t be friends with the boys whom he found worthless and making nuisance. The two old friends are not that fond of their former enemy calling them, but decides to have the free alcohol and chooses to help their old friend with whom they had their best moments in life. They are joined by the third person, Shoubahn Khader (Vinay Forrt) who was the fourth member of their gang which used to be called Role Models during their time at the college. The group, along with the mischief making girl Christy (Srinda Ashab) used to create head ache for everyone in the college especially Gautam’s parents who taught there.

And what is to follow with the adventure? :: The three old friends are shocked to see the attitude of their former best friend towards life, as he had changed so much. He seemed to be exactly the opposite of all that he used to be. They try many things to get him back to be the happy and loving person that he used to be, including alcohol, friendship, and even misunderstanding Christy as his lost love from college. But then, they come to know that the real love of Gautham was Shreya Menon (Namitha Pramod), a girl who was more of an all-rounder, present everywhere, but stayed away from becoming a big name. Their search for her lands them in Goa, where she is a changed person. She is happy to see her old friends, but how will they make sure that Gautham can win his love back? Is there any chance for them to have their old friend back in the way that he used to be?

The defence of Role Models :: There are some nice jokes with which the movie begins – it has that kind of a cast with great comic timing, which improves the level, and keep striving for something better in that department. We have them coming quick and steady in the first half, and the trio handling the same never backs down from doing it. “Thechille Penne” song is nice, but you do feel that should have had more relevance in the movie. The movie also has some messages, even though we are not clear which of them needs to get our attention the most. We would figure out that it is more about parenting than any other. It is good to focus on the significance of parents supporting the children in studying what they really want to – almost every time, the father is the culprit, and due to this attitude of the parents and relatives, the youth are transformed into creatures that should just study for scoring high marks, get a good job with big salary and get married to someone rich and of high family value. Well, the movie does end on a good note despite the confusion. A cameo also arrives in the end nicely, but one has to wonder if it was there because there was no other idea available.

The claws of flaw :: Never does Role Models tries to overcome the limitations which it had put on itself, with not thinking much about the story and how it is told with the entertaining elements. The movie just goes on as if it is walking through sleep, as some characters and some incidents are there just for the sake of being there. Fahad’s action scenes were rather useless, and bringing that certain disorder and making it chaos was certainly a real bad idea. If the same was necessary for the makers to do, they could have at least made things more interesting, and presented in a smart manner. The audience often wonders where the movie is actually heading with so many things added as if they are taken from different movies. You feel that with Fahadh Faasil playing a character reminding you of the same in North 24 Kaatham will make things that good, but this one which has its own confusion running through, never becomes something close to that awesome flick which was critically acclaimed. A divergent movie is fair when it uses the divergence to the best effect, the movie makers should have remembered that.

Performers of the soul :: Once again, Fahadh Faasil makes this seem so easy, as he does his character’s both stages with such an ease that we wonder how he is there to make things better for even the least interesting movie. Keeping on rising with Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Take Off, this one will not be another big movie, but his performance is as usual, to be noted; signs were there in that song which became instantly popular. Sharafudheen-Vinayakan-Vinay Forrt combo is also nothing short of a nice call for laughter, and we have them executing the same really well. The friends just makes things so much better. It is also good to see Namitha Pramod back after Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Amar Akbar Anthony – she gets two times of the character’s life here. Srinda has an interesting and funny role too, after Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol and Adventures of Omanakuttan this year. Meanwhile, Renji Panicker is left with not much interesting to do and Suraj is rather wasted in this role.

How it finishes :: It is surprising how close to each other are the three Malayalam movie releases for the Eid holidays, starting from Avarude Raavukal, going through Oru Cinemakkaran and now standing at Role Models. All three of them released on consecutive dates, and are in quality, quite close to each other. They do provide a mixture of genres, and has the comic side as the one fueling everything right from the beginning, and there are twists in store in each of them. Is it a co-incidence that we have all these movies so similar to each other, and those watching it can only give them ratings so close to each other? Well, when Godha, Adventures of Omanakuttan and Achayans had released, all three of them were so different from each other, and we couldn’t consider them to be on the same level. Well, we have regular entertainment in store here for the festival season as Role Models becomes the third movie to release on the third day.

Release date: 25th June 2017
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Rafi
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Namitha Pramod, Vinayakan, Srinda Ashab, Sharafudheen, Rohini, Seetha, Vinay Forrt, Renji Panicker, Suraj Venjarammood, Aswathi Menon, Dileesh Pothan, Siddique, Bibin George, Harisree Ashokan (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

School Bus

schoolbus (2)

Vampire Owl :: Do you know that I am completely against the idea of school bus?

Vampire Bat :: Because school bus is more of a capitalist idea meant for the schools of the rich, and the normal way is for the kids to go home by public transport and walk through the rest of the distance?

Vampire Owl :: No, it is because centuries ago, when I was a little toothless kid, buses were not invented.

Vampire Bat :: I thought you were going to refer to the nostalgia of walking through the greenery and throwing stones at the mangoes which are about to fall.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, that is also there, but I am more concerned about what I didn’t have in the past.

Vampire Bat :: Well, this movie has Rosshan Andrrews and Bobby-Sanjay teaming up again after How Old Are You? and Mumbai Police. The latter had their interesting Nirnaayakam getting lost in the Premam effect – it didn’t just hurt Ivide, you know.

Vampire Owl :: That makes this school bus better than the usual ones, I believe.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, and a message is certain from this one from the looks of it.

Vampire Owl :: As the humans rarely make use of the messages from movies except for some show-off, lets make better use of them ourselves.

Vampire Bat :: Lets go for the movie then.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Joseph (Jayasurya) and Aparna (Aparna Gopinath) lead a normal family life with their children, even both happen to have their own struggles. They are not that much comfortable with the ego that each of them possesses, and there is very less time for them to spend with their children. While Joseph is rather too strict with the children, while Aparna has even lesser time – both has a lot of time for their work though. There is also a legal battle going on between Joseph and his brother over three cents of land, and that takes away the rest of the time. Due to the same reasons, their kids, Ajoy Joseph (Aakash Muraleedheeran) and Angelina Joseph (Angelina Rosshan) gets no attention except for the wrong reasons. Ajoy only gets into more and more trouble at school, and his class teacher as well as the principal are fed up with his tendency to attract all the problems to himself.

So what happens next? :: One day, Ajoy creates that kind of a problem at the school which might not end at the school. This clearly turns the whole department and the parents of other children against him. With everyone screaming for punishment, he bunks classes, and when that is also found out, runs away from all his troubles. It is the soft-spoken and intelligent police officer, the new entrant into the force, Inspector Gopakumar (Kunchako Boban) who is in charge of finding the missing child, with the assistance of Mohan (Nandu). But the investigation only leads them to a forest – how does everything point to that one place where there is no chance of a child in the city reaching? Can the police officers get Ajoy back home? How will things go as the parents seem to have realized that they haven’t been the father and mother whom they should have been?

The defence of School Bus :: The messages are abundant in this movie, for the parents, married couples, children, teachers and that list goes on, as most people are going to take something or the other from here. I would always choose a movie which leaves on with something to think about, over the rest of the flicks. This is actually a shorter movie, extending only for less than two hours, which makes sure that the momentum stays on throughout its run. The visuals are good whether in the forest or the city, and the movie has some funny moments involving the kids to provide the needed light feeling. There is a certain reflection of incidents that might have happened in our lives as well as the lives of people whom we know. It is that reflection that we hope not to happen, and what we wish to deny happening during our busy lifestyles, but there are things which will happen considering how much less time we have for the people we love. Sometimes you think that this is going to go the Malooty way, but it doesn’t.

The claws of flaw :: School Bus is a movie which could have been a lot better, especially with the last few moments; its ending could have left one with a clearer message rather than attempting to go different in a strange way. It has enough moments which could have actually been presented in another way. The predictability also shows its head on too many occasions – it is not really something that we would expect from a thriller that attempts to keep the messages alive at the same time. As the moments featuring the kids stand out, a better option here would have been to keep them there for most of the time, or otherwise give more importance to the older characters – but neither of these happens here. By the time Kunchako Boban enters the story, too much of the interesting moments in the movie has passed. Clearer message, better adult characters, less predictability and a much better ending – these could have improved this flick!

Performers of the soul :: Jayasurya and Aparna Gopinath does a fine job, but as things doesn’t go around their characters, there is not that much to be seen except for a few emotional moments in the second half. Kunchako Boban also makes his appearance only in the second half and does his job as expected, in his very first police role of the career – there is not that much here to do big though. In the end, it is the kids who get all the attention, and it is them who has more of the screen presence. Aakash Muraleedharan who plays the main character here has done his job well. The director, Rosshan Andrews’ daughter Angelina has made her debut in Malayalam cinema with this movie, and she has done a good job – there are some funny moments for her with those cute grins and the fake fainting, with special mention for the question about the toys. Sudheer Karamana and Nandu have some interesting moments in the second half, but that’s all they would get from this particular movie.

How it finishes :: The combination of Bobby-Sanjay and Rosshan Andrrews has had quite a good amount of success and appreciation except for the dismal thing which was Casanovva. Despite the less hype surrounding it, School Bus is another interesting flick with a fine message to go with it, even though it could have been a lot better; the scope was so much there. The messages include the requirement of the love and care for the kids, the need to keep one’s ego away in relationships, and the significance of sibling love. How many parents look forward to knowing what the children wish for? When both are working and has not time, what happens to the children? As history repeats itself, they and the relatives just keep pushing for the next generation to do only what they want. The final message is also to return to nature, and the true world remains there – well, that is one special thing for the World Environment Day.

Release date: 27th May 2016
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed by: Rosshan Andrrews
Starring: Jayasurya, Kunchacko Boban, Aparna Gopinath, Aakash Muraleedharan, Angelina Rosshan, Sudheer Karamana, Nandu

schoolbus

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.